Joanna Gruesome bring the noise to Manchester, Getintothis’ JoeRayW laps it up.
Church Party kicked off the night, Peace and Love Barbershop Mohammed Ali followed with Queens of the Stone Age Lullabies To Paralyze styled sludge, and Crumbs shook their bite-sized noise pop nuggets before the main act arrived. Each band brought something unique to the stage, yet all shared a key essence; to completely rock out and not worry about how they come across. Don’t like them, who cares? They certainly don’t, and that’s something that is becoming increasingly absent in many a show. It’s all about performance, baby, it’s all about the look.
Live music has become just as much about the performance as it is about the music itself. Bands will come on stage with more than just a set list taped to the floor. They’ll have dance moves, visual light shows, and even a planned stage dive planted firmly in their show. It’s impressive to see so much careful planning come together, but it can sometimes come across as a little stilted. You may think the singer being lifted up into the crowd towards the end is a moment only your crowd is experiencing that night, but take to social media and you’ll find the band doing the same thing night after night. It’s all a part of the show, part of the plan, part of the ego. Joanna Gruesome have no interest in that.
The six come on without much spectacle, talking of sloshing bellies due to a previous night of drinking, and how the second night of the tour had done them in already. Retuning breaks up songs and there’s a general feeling of disarray, but none of this matters, it’s all about the music, not if they can make things run all pretty and smooth. This is rough and raw, a riot grrrl sound that couldn’t be doing with any of that perfectly planned performance malarkey. Save that for the stadium bands, save that for the trance creators, but don’t save it for the riots, the lack of refinement is its own special thing.
They mix soft sung hooks with screaming, a wall of noise, and the crashing of drums. There isn’t enough room on the stage for the six of them, so one of the guitarists is given the freedom of the dance floor, moving around with the sort of space that the other members would probably kill for if there were no witnesses present. It was chaos, yet the music sounded so incredibly tight. Think Bikini Kill, think L7, think Garbage, think whatever the DJ was spinning before they arrived, that’s Joanna Gruesome, and it was an on stage riot.
The show was quick and to the pointless, blasting out two albums worth of material till it was time to go. No encore, and it was hard to determine if there was even any lighting going on. It’s a garage act that feels like it actually came from the garage; who’d have thought that?
The crowd got to participate and add to the finale too, as the floor guitarist passed on his guitar to the crowd, so they could wig out to the noise. What happened to the floor guitarist when he passed it on? Why, he vanished into the back room to crack open another can of beer. The music is hitting all the right distorted notes, let him have his drink!
Joanna Gruesome, you’re so unrefined, but that’s totally fine. Tighten things up and the spirit would be lost. Don’t start dressing up in co-ordinated clothes, don’t plan your stage dive, don’t wait for the encore, don’t make it flashy, just make it yours.